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Minister’s mention of National Assembly dismissal

Posted September. 20, 2014 05:19,   


“Political confusion is deepening in Korea. The National Assembly is in limbo, as the ruling and opposition parties are in dispute over the enactment of a special act related to investigation into the cause of the Sewol ferry disaster.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun of Japan carried on Thursday a report entitled "Korean National Assembly in standstill due to aftermath of (Sewol) sinking." The daily said, “The parliament has been paralyzed, and has not been able to review any single bill since May 3. Stalled politics is feared to affect the economy and diplomacy.”

Up until several years ago, the Japanese media was envious of "Korea’s presidential system that enabled fast political decision-making." Yomiuri’s report is apparently uncomfortable because Korean politics has now become a mockery in Japan. It makes us even more unpleasant because the report is not completely wrong. During the dictatorial governments of the past, martial law and military forces would seal off the National Assembly, but the National Assembly Act that was amended in 2012 granted the opposition party means to block the deliberation of any bill, as long as the party controls at least one third of the assembly seats. The shout urging ‘dismissal of the National Assembly’ reveals the public’s bitter sense of lethargy and despair over new found dictatorship wrought by excessive democracy in Korea.

In Japan with the Cabinet system in 2005, when the postal service reform (privatization) bill failed to pass the Diet due to opposition by the opposition party and several lawmakers of the Liberal Democratic Party, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi instantly dismissed the parliament. Then, his party acquired two thirds of the assembly seats in general elections, and railroaded state agendas. If the parliamentary paralysis continues due to dispute over the Special Sewol Act in Korea, it might be possible that prevailing public opinion will demand switch into the Cabinet system like Japan.

Security and Public Administration Minister Chong Jong-sup said on Thursday, “The National Assembly is in state of impossibility to govern” adding, “If it were the cabinet system, this situation would require its dismissal.” He went on to say, “According to the Korean Constitution, the president can place an emergency finance order, but is not allowed to dismiss the National Assembly. There is no way other than the assembly’s dismissal by itself.” Having served as the dean of Seoul National University law school, and chair of the Korean Constitutional Law Association, he would have the right to make explanations on the availability of the presidential right to dismiss the National Assembly under the cabinet system and the presidential system as a scholar of constitution. However, it appears inappropriate for a minister, a Cabinet member, to mention “dismissal of the National Assembly,” which is something that was done under the dictatorial Yushin (revitalizing reform) Constitution and the Fifth Republic Constitution.